Phoenix Culture Pass: Challenger Space Center

Challenger Space Center

Challenger Space Center

The Challenger Space Center was the next stop in our Phoenix Culture Pass series. Located at 83rd Ave. and Deer Valley, the Space Center has educated students and museum goers about the wonders of space and science for fourteen years. This past beautiful cloudy Saturday we visited the Center and explored its wonders.

Keep Looking Up

Keep Looking Up

The first thing that struck us was the Center itself. The building oozes space progrm, mission control on one side, launch pad on the other.

Model and mission patches

Model and mission patches

The docent at the front desk told us of the day’s activities, one of which was a ‘light show’ in the lower level. With time to kill before the show, we set off to explore the Center. We emerged into the main silo and the lights, size, and futurist paintings were enough to make the trip worthwhile.

Understanding the Nature of Light

Understanding the Nature of Light

Time for class, we joined a few families in a B1 level classroom filled with experiments including a plasma ball, static globe, and Tesla coil. Brian Campbell, a volunteer from General Dynamics, deftly taught the physics of light, entertaining all ages with hands on experiments and the occasional science joke. An hour flew by at 186,000 miles per second. It was the fun of science class all over again.

Neon's spectral fingerprint

Neon’s spectral fingerprint

The Challenger Space Center has guided tours, a gift shop, stargazing nights, and its most special event, a two-hour simulated space mission where teams get to participate as mission control, fight crew, or scientists.

Left this full size for your wallpaper enjoyment

Left this full size for your wallpaper enjoyment

The Center is open Monday through Saturday, 10 am – 4 pm, and the most expensive admission is $8. This was one of our favorites in the Culture Pass series, and for kids and the space/sci-fi/science inclined, we can’t recommend the Challenger Space Center enough.

Travel Tip: Hack-a-Cab

taxiSo, remember how we talked about hacking not always being about computers? Here’s a hack that can save you some cash when travelling.

On a recent trip, I was looking at the estimated cab fares from the airport to the hotel I was going to. $75. Holy crap! So, when I arrived, there was a “brand name” hotel (I don’t want to give them a plug) across from the airport. It was the same brand as the hotel I was going to be staying at in a nearby city.

I strolled in with my bags and asked the concierge if they had shuttle service between their hotel and the other hotel. They didn’t but they did say something interesting. Since I was now officially “off airport property” the cab ride to the other hotel would be $35.


While on the ride to the other hotel, I was thinking about the future applications of this hack. If the concierge saw me walk in from the airport, he may not have been so forthcoming. Hanging out in the lobby a bit, or getting a beverage from the coffee shop would make it more look like you’re a guest of the hotel. Sitting down in the bar and having a tasty adult beverage would work too.

You may even want to take a hotel shuttle bus to an off-site hotel to ensure you’re off airport grounds. Then, call your cab from there.

As with most any hack (of any kind), you need to do your research first. And of course, you’ll need to have enough time before you need to get where you’re going.

On another note, Lyft ride sharing service rocks. I used them on this trip too. The Uber driver was more than willing to share the info on the dirty tricks Uber has been using once I brought up the topic. Uber sucks IMHO.

RIP Saturday Morning Cartoons

Today marks the end of almost 40 years of Saturday morning cartoons. Vortexx, the last bastion of cereal-centric programming on broadcast television, ends its two-run year today to be replaced with reality and animal programming.

The end of Saturday morning cartoons is likely the harbinger of the end of terrestrial television, at least as we know it. As the 60 Minutes crowd fades and kids grow up only knowing entertainment on demand, broadcast television will adapt or dwindle away.

Enjoy this cloudy Saturday with your couch and some Zexal, and take solace in the fact that we still have The Best of The Joy of Painting at 7:30 am on channel 8.

Four Chambers Literary Magazine Release Party Thursday October 2nd


Thursday night, October 2nd, Four Chambers will throw a release party for the second issue of their eponymous literary magazine, Four Chambers. Jake Friedman put together “64 authors, 62 poems, and 13 prose works,” half of which are local, as well as art from Sentrock, NXOEED, and others.

The party’s from 7 pm to midnight at FilmBar and free for fans of Xanax, World War II, and surreal wound foliage. Issues are $12 and will be available at local stores throughout the metro area.

ELECTRIC WIZARD Releases ‘Time To Die’ Tuesday September 30th

I was talking to Matt at Record Revival and I told him I was really digging doom. Like a bearded oracle he instructed me to listen to Dopethrone by Electric Wizard. My slow, heavy descent into the depths of doom have continued since, and the dark gods rewarded me, us, with Electric Wizard’s latest release, Time To Die.

This release is big. Bands are named after Electric Wizard albums and songs big. Expect ten minute plus fatalistic dirges and aural mortal wounds caused by crunchy guitars from this nine track beast. Time To Die sees US release September 30th and you can pre-order the album and more at

How Many Pancakes Can You Shovel In Your Hole In 60 Minutes? The Answer May Surprise You.

Every damn day is some sort of ‘holiday’ anymore. National Friendship Day, whatever. Talk Like A Pirate Day, get outta here. National Pancake Day? Wait, now we got something. Apparently breakfast joint SCRAMBLE is doing $7 all-you-can-eat pancakes with the added bonus that the person who puts away the most of those sweet, sweet breakfast cakes gets FREE PANCAKES FOR THE YEAR.

The unhealthy, gluttonous and totally fuckin awesome competition starts at 6 am at both Scramble locations and, most importantly, there WILL be a winner at both. Hit it up and for god’s sake, try to get at least a little exercise afterwards you slovenly monster with impeccable tastes.


IMG_20140918_155410_628If you live anywhere near central Phoenix, odds are you have been stuck behind this Heath Ledger Joker van. ‘What’s in the back?’, you may have wondered. “Is it full of clowns that murder and/or overdose on pills?’ Like you, I have wondered these same things in the numerous times I was stuck behind the Joker-mobile. I happened to finally see it parked in the wild and the truth is less interesting by a huge margin; this is merely the work van for a local mural/ portrait painter Danny Livingston and OH MAN, HOLY SHIT GO LOOK AT THAT WEBSITE. Next time you see it in traffic or painting the back mural of a store in your neighborhood, now you know who did it. Danny Livingston ‘AKA Rod Stewart’. I don’t know what his relationship is to the actual Rod Stewart, but feel free to throw that in the comments if you have any idea.


Unannounced Skylanders Trap Team Events at Toys R Us Today

I like my video games full of exploration of beautiful, colorful cartoon worlds (ideally sprites but that’s a tall order) and easy enough where I can progress in small increments. The Skylanders Spyro’s Adventure starter pack for the 3DS I picked up on a $30 whim was perfect, and it sucked me in like a Portal of Power.

The monster designs are endearing, it’s mostly portable – you can only hold two active Skylanders in game at a time on the 3DS – and you can pick up Series 1 figures at AZ Collectors Marketplace for $5. While picking up a Series 1 Hex at Toys R Us last night, the helpful person at the register filled me in on an unadvertised event promoting the release of Skylanders Trap Team on October 5th.

Chopper from Trap Team

Chopper from Trap Team

The event reportedly has pre-order deals, posters, and Toys R Us exclusives. This is uncorroborated at the moment as it was too late to track any info down. Stay tuned to this post as I work through the early morning to get more information.

Seeing how the events were unadvertised and it’s a school day, I imagine you can swing by at lunch or even after work to participate and pick up some schwag. Again, stay tuned.

UPDATE 10:30 AM: Well, the Skylanders Trap Team event was at 8 am and all the schwag is gone.